ELCA members offer prayers for congregation of Gloria Dei in Duluth, Minn.

2/19/2016 4:30:00 PM

​          CHICAGO (ELCA) – Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are offering prayers for the congregation of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minn., whose church suffered major damage in a fire Feb. 18. The fire, which destroyed much of the sanctuary of the 110-year-old building, is still under investigation.
            The Rev. David M. Carlson, pastor of Gloria Dei, said although members are devastated by the loss, they are determined to continue their work in the community. Carlson said the church is in an area "where people are in need."
            "It is a loss, but we know the church is the people, and we believe in the resurrection. We know this is not the end, and the ministry continues," said Carlson. He added that the monthly free breakfast hosted by the congregation will go on as planned and will be held at a temporary site in the community.
            Carlson said the congregation plans on staying at the current location, so he and others are meeting with contractors and structural engineers to determine how much of the remaining structure can be used in rebuilding.
            At a prayer vigil Feb. 18 at First Lutheran Church in Duluth, members spoke about the ongoing ministry of Gloria Dei, sharing a Bible passage from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." Carlson said a long-time member, reflecting on the passage, wrote in a social media post, "My heart is breaking, but not my spirit."
            For the next several weeks, the congregation will worship with the congregation of Faith Lutheran in Duluth, and a temporary church office has been established at the ELCA Northeastern Minnesota Synod offices in Duluth.
            Carlson expressed his appreciation for the Rev. Thomas Aitken, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Minnesota Synod, who has "shepherded us through the process."
            "We are thankful for the body of Christ and how we are connected with all of the ELCA," said Carlson, describing the outpouring of concern throughout the ELCA.
            "It's humbling to know that we don't walk alone and God is faithful," said Carlson. "There is new life and we believe in the resurrection."

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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